Abstract: Opening Plenary Session  2:45 pm (BACK)

Changing Demographics in Texas: Places, Perspectives, and People

Roel R. Lopez, PhD
Director and Professor
Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources
San Antonio, TX

Texas is comprised of 142 million acres of private farms, ranches and forests, leading the nation in land area devoted to privately-owned working lands. These working lands account for 83% of the state’s entire land area and provide substantial economic, environmental, and recreational resources that benefit many Texans. Native landscapes and working lands are increasingly threatened by suburbanization, rural development and land ownership fragmentation driven by rapid population growth causing a fundamental change, one that has implications for rural economies, national security and food security, and conservation of water, wildlife, and other natural resources. The Texas Land Trends report is published every five years, following the availability of the USDA NASS Census of Agriculture data, and serves to describe the status and recent changes in land use, ownership size, and land values of privately owned Texas farms, ranches, and forests, collectively known as working lands. Findings from the 2014 report will be presented and compared to previous time periods to determine current and historic land use trends. The goal of Texas Land Trends is to provide public and private decision-makers with timely information to support the conservation of Texas working lands in a spatially explicit context that identifies areas to target future conservation efforts based on potential for future ownership fragmentation along with other ecologically relevant factors.